Show of 10-26-2019

 TECH TALK – Saturday, 26 October 2019

 

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Al in Southern Maryland: Hello Tech Talk! Greetings from Southern Maryland. I enjoy your show and you’ve answered my queries before and now I have what seems to be a serious problem.  I am on a Dell desktop running Windows 7.  Suddenly, upon bootup, Windows 7 would not startup.  It ended in a screen stating that Windows was unable to start and offered two options: 1) run a repair attempt or 2) start Windows normally.  I chose starting normally and it started correctly.  Next time I tried to boot up, it happened again.  This time it took multiple tries at starting normally before it started correctly.  The next time I tried to bootup, it yet again failed and would not start after multiple tries so I ran the repair option.  It ended stating it could not be repaired automatically.  I tried booting up again, it again failed, and after several tries of choosing the start normally option, it finally started correctly.  I have now not turned off the computer fearing that it might never startup again.  Is my computer dying?  I have CCleaner on the system and haven’t run it in a while so I thought about doing a cleaning to see if that might help.  I also thought about using CCleaner’s registry cleanup which I’ve never used before.  However, I won’t do anything until I get your expert advice.  Thanks for your great show and for helping listeners by sharing your expertise. HELP!! Al in Southern Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: Since the boot up occurs intermittently, it is not a configuration error. CCleaner will not help with this problem. It is most probably an error in reading data from a bad sector in your hard drive. I would immediately backup you files, either to an external hard drive or to the cloud using a service like Carbonite. I would also create a Windows Recovery DVD immediately. If your computer does not have a DVD, you can create a bootable USB thumb drive. You will have to change the boot order in the BIOS to boot to either the DVD reader or the USB drive. The recovery environment has several tools available to repair the system.
  • A quick option is to use the chkdsk command to fix any hard drive failures. To use chkdsk you will need to open the command window as an administrator. Search for cmd and then right click on the popup and select Open as an Administrator. You can then execute chkdsk/f. The f option directs the program to fix any problems that it finds.
  • After you run check disk, I recommend that you replace your hard drive by restoring your current hard drive to a new hard drive. Hard drives are very cheap these days. I would recommend using Macrium Reflect (Free version).  Macrium Reflect is a FREE program that offers external backup capabilities. You can clone all partitions on your hard drive to a new drive. Then you can remove the old hard drive and replace it with the new hard drive. Reboot your computer and you are good to go.
  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz and Jim. I need your insight on an Apple SE cell phone and auxiliary battery pack. Recently I heard that you have on your Apple cell phone an external battery pack. Which is intended to augment your Apple’s internal power supply. Well, I did the same for my Apple SE phone.It is a 2500mAH external battery pack that allows my cell phone to slip into.My question surrounds the best operation practice to extend the life of the Apple internal battery. The instructions states that you can have it OFF for a standby battery or have it ON to supplement the Apple internal battery. I have heard that one should NOT have a tablet, laptop, cell phone, etc. “plugged” in and continually used at 100% “charge” state. It allegedly will cause the battery to have a shorter life span. Should I turn ON the external battery all the time? Or should I wait until the Apple internal battery gets low? Is it best to allow the Apple internal battery to discharge to 30%/40% and recharge to 80%/90% so it will NOT count as a FULL CYCLE CHARGE? So, what is your suggestion on how to use the external battery pack and Apple internal battery? Thanks, Doug in Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: I leave the battery pack on my phone at all times. Because I am such a big user, both the battery pack and the cell phone discharge each day. Neither is ever in a fully charged state the entire day. It is true that you do not want to keep your battery charged above 80% all the time. That pattern will reduce its lifetime. You want to periodically fully discharge your battery to maintain a longer lifetime. I love my battery pack because it allows me to operate an entire day without a charger when I am travelling.
  • Email from Jeannie in Pittsburgh: Dear Tech Talk. I have a Straight Talk smart phone and I have a question about the amount of data it’s using. I always buy the $45 card and I still often use up my 25GB of data several days before the month is over. I absolutely hate it when they switch my phone to slower speed. Is there really an app that will let me avoid the data cap on my Straight Talk plan? My friend told me there is one but he says he can’t remember the name of it. I searched the Google Play Store high and low but couldn’t find it in Google Play. I think he might be just trying to pull one over on me. Am I right or is there really an app that will do this? Jeannie in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are no legitimate apps that will override the data cap on your Straight Talk plan. There are third-party apps that claim to do this, but they don’t really work. What’s more, they typically plant malware on your phone! Those reasons are why they aren’t available in the official Google Play store. So the long answer to your question is your friend probably isn’t “trying to pull one over on you”, but his information is a bit off the mark.
  • There are a few things you can do to minimize your monthly data usage and (hopefully) avoid the dreaded “2G speed penalty”.
    • Some mobile web browsers reduce the quality of images (which also reduces their file sizes) before transmitting them to your phone via your cellular data connection. If your browser supports this option, turn it on.
    • Review your list of installed apps and uninstall every app that you never use or don’t even remember installing in the first place. Note: Some apps that came pre-installed on your phone can’t be uninstalled. You’ll have to disable them instead.
    • Use the fantastic My Data Manager app to analyze your phone’s data usage and figure out which apps you need to manage in order to minimize your monthly data consumption.
    • Disable “Push Notifications” on your social media apps unless you absolutely MUST be notified right away when something happens on there.
    • Connect your phone to an available Wi-Fi connection whenever possible.
  • I recommend that you try all the tips mentioned above instead of searching for a dubious Straight Talk “data cap override” app. I hope this helps. Good luck!
  • Email from Sundeep in NYC: Dear Doc and Jim. I made a stupid mistake and I’m hoping you can help me out of a jam. I’m not a pro photographer or anything, but I do love taking pictures, and I take a lot of them. I use a Canon Powershot camera with two SD cards (I swap them out when the first one becomes full). What happened is I accidentally formatted the wrong card and wiped out a ton of pictures that I really want to keep. Is there a way to get those pictures back? Sundeep in NYC
  • Tech Talk Responds: If all you did was format the card without trying to use it again, you most likely can retrieve most (and possibly all) of your lost photos. A fantastic free program called Recuva will scan your internal or external hard drive, USB thumb drive or the memory card from your camera or smart phone and give you the option to “undelete” any deleted files that it finds. Recuva will scan your memory card and compile an inventory of all the files that have not been over-written with new files since the card was formatted. I have a feeling that most (if not all) of your photos can be recovered since you probably stopped taking photos and storing them on that card after it was formatted. I recommend that you download and install Recuva and give it a try. Link: https://www.oldergeeks.com/downloads/file.php?id=278
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr Shurtz. When using Ookla Speedtest for internet connection speed, Ookla allows one to change servers. And just because one server is closer than another, it will choose the fastest server. There are more than thirty servers at various locations in Colorado listed. My provider is Comcast/xfinity. Even though Ookla’s goes to the fastest connection, is that the connection my iPad goes to? Or does the connection go the Comcast/xfinity, my ISP? Great show with lots of info. Arnie in Colorado Springs, C
  • Tech Talk Responds: The speed test data passes through your ISP on the way to your iPad. The files are actually downloaded from the server that you selected through Ookla. Every connection you make to the internet must pass through your ISP.
  • Email from Stu in Kilmarnock: Dear Doc and Jim. I would like to buy a satellite phone for use on my boat in the case of emergency. What are some good options? Love the podcast. Stu in Kilmarnock, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Not all satellite phones have the same coverage area.
    • Inmarsat — Inmarsat satellite phones work best between 50° North and South latitude due to their 3 satellites being positioned over the equator. The farther from the equator you are, the more your Inmarsat phone’s signal will rely on a clear line of sight to the horizon. This is a good option for most sailors.
    • Iridium— Iridium is also the only network (with 66 satellites) that offers global coverage including the poles. This is an option if are near the poles.
    • Globalstar— Globalstar is mostly limited to North America with a network of 40 LEO satellites.
  • Iridium’s Extreme 9575rugged satellite phone has an integrated GPS, an SOS button, and works anywhere on the globe, including polar areas. The 9575 has integrated GPS and an SOS button and lets you send and receive text messages and email, receive voicemail, and use it as a mobile hotspot. Maximum data speed is only 2.4 kbps, so short messages work best. Talk time per battery charge is up to 4 hours. All Iridium phones have the same service rates. The Iridium Monthly Wave Runner Plan, for example, provides 90 minutes a month for $100. Extra minutes cost $1.54 each. It costs $1,157.00 from Amazon.
  • Inmarsat’s Isatphone 2is a rugged, splash-resistant satellite phone great for marine use that works worldwide except for the polar regions. Built for marine life, the IsatPhone 2 is dust, shock, and splash resistant, and withstands 95 percent humidity. Battery life provides eight hours of talk time with 160 hours standby. The phone also has voicemail, SMS, and email messaging. A built-in GPS and emergency button sends a distress text to a pre-arranged number with your location. Inmarsat’s IsatPhone Mid Plan costs $65 a month for 30 minutes, with extra minutes costing $1.05. It costs $634.00 from Amazon.
  • Globalstar’s GSP-1700low-priced, regional coverage satellite phone has great voice quality and low operating costs. If you’re traveling or staying within one of the Globalstar regional coverage areas, much but not all of the world, the Globalstar GSP-1700 is a good option. The GSP-1700 doesn’t send or receive SMS messages and there’s no GPS, but you can get your longitude and latitude directly from the phone while in talk mode. Because Globalstar phones link with cell ground stations, they have far and away the clearest voice quality. The Globalstar phone also has voicemail. The Globalstar Orbit 200 minute plan provides 200 minutes for $100, with extra minutes for $0.99 each. It cost $499.00 from Amazon.
  • Email from Youel Sarkis in San Diego: Dear Dr Richard. Hello and how are you? Love the show and I have been listening for few years religiously. You have a lot of great information that one can learn.
  • I have two questions. First, my church would like to broad cast/stream live our mass every Sunday live. I do not have time to sit there and start up the recording. Then up load it to YouTube or Facebook. Is there an IP camera that we can purchase that can do this automatically on a given time without anyone babysitting it. Mount it and set the program to stream.
  • And on my second question.I have Google Wi-Fi at my home and love it. The only problem that I have is that it is a different network and I like it to have the same as my wired network. Anything on Google Wi-Fi network, I cannot see through the router on my computer. I cannot stream video to my TV. Can I combine them as one network? Where everything is together and can see each other. Thank you for taking my question looking forward on your answers. Have a great show and keep up the great work every week. Thank you again. Youel Sarkis, San Diego, CA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Let’s talk about your Wi-Fi. You can cascading two routers systems. You have plugged your wired network in the Cable Router and the Google Wi-Fi connected to the same Ethernet switch in the Cable Router. So you have two different DHCP servers and two different networks. You can merge them to one network by plugging the wired network into the Google Wi-Fi. Then both your wired network and your wireless cascade through two firewalls and two NAT servers. That should solve your problem, although the piggybacked NAT servers could slow down your gaming. If that is a problem, you can convert you Cable router to a bridge and only use the NAT server in the Google Wi-Fi system.
  • As for your charge, the easiest way to video is to use Periscope or Facebook Live. It is quick and dirty. You need to be mindful that most church music is copyrighted that that broadcasting it is outside of the fair use carve out. This gives a simple single angle view of the event. You should employ a wireless mike for anyone who speaks. Good sound is more important than good video. Plug the wireless mike directly into the camera. We simply use an iPad for the video streaming of the radio show on Periscope.
  • A good turnkey streaming service for Churches is DaCast. DaCast offers a well-rounded and comprehensive service at a competitive price. Smaller churches will gravitate to the Starter Plan, but will receive the same great features as larger churches on the Premium Plan. DaCast is easy to set up and get started, making it attractive for first time broadcaster. For pros, DaCast offers but also comes with sophisticated features and capabilities
    • Starter Plan $19/month (includes 100 GB of bandwidth & 20 GB of storage)
    • Pro Plan $165/month (includes 2,000 GB of bandwidth & 125 GB of storage)
    • Premium Plan $390/month (includes 5,000 GB of bandwidth & 250 GB of storage)
  • I would also suggest that you create a podcast. They are easier to manage. You can concentrate on getting great sound with a sound mixer. A reasonable service to work with is Podpoint.com (https://podpoint.com/). The simplest solution is to use a computer running software like Audacity (free) or GarageBand (free for Macs).

Profiles in IT: William Hewlitt and David Packard

  • Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded Silicon Valley in Hewlett’s garage. A coin toss made the company Hewlett-Packard instead of Packard.
  • The company’s first “plant” was a garage in Palo Alto with initial capital of $538.
  • Hewlett’s first product was an innovative audio oscillator based on the newly developed principle of negative feedback. The Walt Disney Company purchased eight of the first ones for $71.50 each, for use in the 1940 film Fantasia.
  • David Packard
    • David Packard was born Sept. 7, 1912, in Pueblo, Colo. He attended Stanford University and received a BA 1934 and a MSEE in 1939.
    • Packard’s interest in electricity and science attracted him to the field of radio engineering. The son of a lawyer, Packard was lured to Stanford, in part, by a textbook on radio engineering written by Terman, a professor at Stanford.
    • Packard played football at Stanford and in 1958 was selected for SI’s Silver Anniversary All-America team.
    • From 1936 to 1938, Packard was an engineer with GE in Schenectady, N.Y.
    • In 1938, he returned to Palo Alto and the following year formed HP.
    • Packard served as a partner in the company from its founding in 1939 until it was incorporated in 1947. In 1947, he became president, a post he held until 1964, when he was elected chairman of the board and chief executive officer.
    • Packard left the company in 1969 to become U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense in the first Nixon administration. When he returned to California in 1971, he was re-elected chairman of the board of HP.
    • Packard was been president and chairman of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation since it began in 1964.
  • William Redington Hewlett
    • William Redington Hewlett was born 20 May 1913 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his father served on the faculty of the university’s medical school.
    • Bill was admitted to Stanford in 1930 and received his BSEE in 1934.
    • Hewlett studied under and was been mentored by Frederick Terman, who was to a great degree responsible for the development of Silicon Valley.
    • Hewlett received MSEE from MIT in 1936 and returned to Stanford.
    • Hewlett and his fellow student and close friend David Packard, with Terman’s encouragement, formed the Hewlett-Packard Company in 1939.
    • He set up William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 1966. The foundation now ranks as one of the nation’s largest.
  • Hewlett and Packard oversaw the company with enviable management, technological, and scientific skills. They also managed the company with a new set of operating principles and with an intensely personal style that came to redefine much of American corporate life and culture, e.g., profit-sharing, employee stock ownership, flexible work hours, and health insurance. What came to be known as the “HP way.”

The HP Way

  • “an egalitarian, decentralized system that came to be known as ‘the HP Way’. The essence of the idea, radical at the time, was that employees’ brainpower was the company’s most important resource.”
  • “One of the first all-company profit-sharing plans gave shares to all employees’ among the first to offer tuition assistance, flex time, and job sharing. Today, the behavior of the two founders remains a benchmark for business.”
  • We have trust and respect for individuals.
    • We approach each situation with the belief that people want to do a good job and will do so, given the proper tools and support. We attract highly capable, diverse, innovative people and recognize their efforts and contributions to the company. HP people contribute enthusiastically and share in the success that they make possible.
  • We focus on a high level of achievement and contribution.
    • Our customers expect HP products and services to be of the highest quality and to provide lasting value. To achieve this, all HP people, especially managers, must be leaders who generate enthusiasm and respond with extra effort to meet customer needs. Techniques and management practices which are effective today may be outdated in the future. For us to remain at the forefront in all our activities, people should always be looking for new and better ways to do their work.
  • We conduct our business with uncompromising integrity.
    • We expect HP people to be open and honest in their dealings to earn the trust and loyalty of others. People at every level are expected to adhere to the highest standards of business ethics and must understand that anything less is unacceptable. As a practical matter, ethical conduct cannot be assured by written HP policies and codes; it must be an integral part of the organization, a deeply ingrained tradition that is passed from one generation of employees to another.
  • We achieve our common objectives through teamwork.
    • We recognize that it is only through effective cooperation within and among organizations that we can achieve our goals. Our commitment is to work as a worldwide team to fulfill the expectations of our customers, shareholders and others who depend upon us. The benefits and obligations of doing business are shared among all HP people.
  • We encourage flexibility and innovation.
  • We create an inclusive work environment which supports the diversity of our people and stimulates innovation. We strive for overall objectives which are clearly stated and agreed upon, and allow people flexibility in working toward goals in ways that they help determine are best for the organization. HP people should personally accept responsibility and be encouraged to upgrade their skills and capabilities through ongoing training and development. This is especially important in a technical business where the rate of progress is rapid and where people are expected to adapt to change.

Bluetooth Security Issues

  • Bluetooth has long been a dirty word for security professionals.
  • One of the most common pieces of advice given to attendees of the annual DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas is to make sure Bluetooth is disabled on their phones.
  • At this year’s DEF CON researchers showed off the ability to use Bluetooth to identify vulnerable digital speakers.
  • Once identified, hackers could take control of the devices and force them to play “dangerous” sounds that could lead to hearing loss in anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby.
  • Researchers recently announced a flaw that could allow hackers to both intercept and alter data sent over Bluetooth.
  • “An attacker is able to the listen in on, or change the content of, nearby Bluetooth communication, even between devices that have previously been successfully paired,” explain the researchers.
  • Researchers also demonstrated how AirDrop can be used by malicious actors to determine your full phone number due to the way Bluetooth Low Energy works.
  • Many stores now use Bluetooth beacons to track the location of individual shoppers down to the inch. That information is often sold or given to advertisers, who then use it to build data profiles on unwitting people just trying to buy a carton of milk.
  • By keeping Bluetooth enabled on your phone at all times opens you up to potential hacks, abuse, and privacy violations.
  • The solution is simple: Don’t use it. Or, if you must, make sure to turn it off as soon as you’ve unpaired from the device in question.

Buying a Chromebook? Watch for Expiration Date

  • It is unlikely to be printed on the box, but every Chromebook has an “Auto Update Expiration (AUE) Date” after which the operating system is unsupported by Google.
  • The authoritative document on the subject is here, where Google explains that it “provides each new hardware platform with 6.5 years of Auto Update support”.
  • While 6.5 years sounds reasonable, Google starts the clock ticking “when the first device on the platform is released”.
  • Later models may use the same hardware platform, which means they are not supported for as long. It is nothing to do with the purchase date.
  • After AUE date passes, there will be no more automatic software updates from Google and no technical support from Google.
  • If you happen to buy your Chromebook late in the product’s life cycle, you may be surprised how soon the AUE date arrives.
  • You can continue to use your Chromebook after the AUE but the OS will be frozen in time and Google’s warnings above will apply.
  • Link to Expiration Dates: https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/6220366

Earth’s Inner Core is Spinning Faster that the Earth

  • On September 27, 1971, a nuclear bomb exploded on Russia’s Novaya Zemlya islands. The powerful blast sent waves rippling so deep inside Earth they ricocheted off the inner core, pinging an array of hundreds of mechanical sensors some 4,000 miles away in the Montana wilderness. Three years later, that array picked up a signal when a second bomb exploded at nearly the same spot.
  • This pair of nuclear explosions was part of hundreds of tests detonated during the Cold War.
  • The seismic record have helped scientists calculate one of the most precise estimates yet of how fast the planet’s inner core is spinning.
  • Earth spins on its axis once about every 24 hours. But the inner core is a roughly moon-size ball of iron floating within an ocean of molten metal, which means it is free to turn independently from our planet’s large-scale spin, a phenomenon known as super-rotation.
  • Using the signals from those decades-old nuclear explosions, John Vidale, a seismologist at the University of Southern California, now has the latest estimate for this rate.
  • In a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters, he reports that the inner core likely inches along just faster than Earth’s surface.
  • If his rate’s right, it means that if you stood on a spot at the Equator for one year, the part of the inner core that was previously beneath you would wind up under a spot 4.8 miles away.
  • Better understanding the history and current dynamics of the iron blob within our planet could yield more clues to the processes charging and stabilizing our magnetic field.

Thermal Nuclear Propulsion Looks Promising

  • America, China, and Russia are all working to develop rockets powered by thermal nuclear propulsion.
  • NASA chief Jim Bridenstine says it could be a “game-changer” for the space agency.
  • Bridenstine gave a presentation on the importance of developing nuclear propulsion tech during a meeting of the National Space Council.
  • If NASA cracks the tech, Bridenstine told the crowd it could revolutionize space travel by powering high-speed Mars-bound rockets, outposts and settlements in outer space — and give a high-powered upgrade to satellites orbiting the Earth.
  • As part of its annual budget, Congress granted NASA $125 million for nuclear propulsion research in May.
  • Specifically, he was interested in how a faster trip to and from Mars would mean exposing astronauts to less cosmic radiation.